The Music of “Our” Proms
The year was 1979 and my date was not the man of my dreams, instead he was a good friend who felt sorry for me when the man of my dreams didn’t invite me to prom. I spent the evening spinning around the floor of the Valley Dale Ballroom in a too long ivory taffeta dress from J. C. Penney and white shoes from Gold Circle. I spent most of my time on the dance floor watching the man of my dreams dance with a girl I wanted to be. I was so distracted that I stepped on the ruffled bottom of my dress and ripped a big hole in it with my teeter totter heels.
I don’t even remember where we ate dinner before the prom. I think I had steak which later gave me gas and I didn’t drink very much water because it was too hard to maneuver my puffy dress in a tiny bathroom stall – did I mention I had on a crinoline? I took it off after the second song.
The theme of my prom was something tropical – or maybe a fairy kingdom – and I don’t think anyone spiked the punch. The after-prom party was at a bowling alley and I was more comfortable in a purple spring sweater and jeans then I had been in my princess type get-up.
Music – that’s what I remember about my prom.
We had a DJ – you know one of those guys who show up with tons of speakers, turn tables and records. Can anyone say 45s and albums? We danced in choreographed groups to Chic, Peaches & Herb, Donna Summer, Blondie, Gloria Gaynor, Village People, ABBA, and Sister Sledge. I think Mr. DJ even threw some songs on from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
You guessed it, the night of my final dance as a high school student was entrenched in the pop culture soundtrack that came at the tail end of the “Disco” era.
We slow danced, and I made sure we shuffled close to my dream man. My right heel kept getting caught in the rip of my dress and my feet were really starting to hurt, but we managed to do something that resembled a waltz. We swished and swayed to the Little River Band, Barry Manilow, The Commodores, Styx, and The Captain and Tennille. My dream man was too busy nuzzling the neck of his date to notice that true love flashed forever in my eyes as I danced/limped by with my feet surrounded by shredded material.
The DJ had a passion for Cheap Trick and The Police and we liked them, although our homemade waltzes and choreographed dances did little to give these tunes justice. We were also left with some songs that we simply stood and listened to. We knew the words, just not the moves. “Tusk” from Fleetwood Mac was an anomaly to us, but the marching band part was great, and we simply sang at the top of our lungs with the Charlie Daniels Band and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.
I forget the last song of the night. However, I remember the next to last song was a mystery to me. “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles blasted through the Valley Dale Ballroom. Little did we know that technology was soon to blast through our lives making this song a reality.
We would find out the next day, after the last song had been played and all of the crepe paper banners had been tugged down from the ceiling of the Valley Dale Ballroom, that we had lost some classmates in a drunken driving accident. We remembered them with a moment of silence at our graduation.
A few weeks after prom, we graduated into a world that wasn’t quite over the Disco craze and was already replacing the electric typewriter. Computers, word processing, VCRs, and compact disc players were on the horizon and soon enough we would learn that indeed video would give radio some competition. We would also learn about life as a yuppie and 401-K programs. The 80’s would bring a new sound track to the world and to proms all over. But for one night, one night in May of 1979, the world was our world, the music was our music and the future was up for grabs. I would be a writer, my prom date a successful business man and the rest of my class would also strive to fight and find a place to call their own.
I haven’t seen my prom date since graduation – our friendship faded and we went different ways. Maybe after I finish writing this article I will look him up. I hope that he is a successful business man. I’m going to tell him that I’m a writer.
Oh . . .
And that dream guy, well, that dream guy married his prom date right after high school because she became pregnant. I think they had three kids – the last I heard they were divorced.
My dreams, goals, and fears as a high school senior will be forever held in a time-capsule of music. The first note of many of those songs can almost make me cry. I’m not sure if I cry for a future unrealized or a past that is getting pushed further back due to time and technology.
What about you? What music is in your prom time-capsule? If you want to talk to me about the music of your prom, drop me a line.
Have a great week!
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